Brian Barry chooses the team he believes should line out for the Republic of Ireland against Germany on Tuesday.
Ireland travel to Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday on the back of a 7-0 drubbing of minnows Gibraltar. The Irish have a 100% win record so far during this campaign and face a German side that will be chomping at the bit following their 2-0 loss to Poland.
Here Brian Barry gives us his opinion on the XI that Martin O’Neill should employ against the World Cup winners. The formation is 4-5-1.
GK: David Forde.
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. O’Neill has backed Forde from the word go, and the Millwall shot-stopper has not let him down. The Galway native has shown no reason to be dropped, and neither Keiren Westwood nor Shay Given have made compelling cases for inclusion.
Forde was solid in the second half when needed against Gibraltar.
RB: David Meyler.
Meyler was tidy against Gibraltar, and has adapted to his role at right-back well. If one criticism was to be found, it was that he appeared reluctant to power past McGeady up the flank in attack. However, it is unlikely that this will be needed against the Germans, and a solid display in defence should see Meyler hold onto his place.
CB: Marc Wilson and John O’Shea.
Wilson and O’Shea have worked well together, and seem to be gelling as the campaign gathers momentum. Of course, Germany are a new challenge for the pair, and they will have to be on top form.
O’Shea has an embarrassment of experience when it comes to taking on the world’s top attackers, lining out for Manchester United in Europe for years. Wilson’s regular first-team football with Stoke should ensure his inclusion, but he must improve upon his wayward passing from the Gibraltar game.
LB: James McClean.
In the absence of Séamus Coleman, Stephen Ward is the next option for left-back. But the former Bohemians player has never looked comfortable in defence. He put in a fine display on Saturday, but most of the time he was moving forward.
Ward can struggle positionally when defending, and Joachim Low’s side may target this. James McClean has played at left-back for his club in the past, and his appetite for defence is evident when played on the wing. He is a threat going forward, and is the most sensible option at left-back.
RM: Aiden McGeady.
McGeady is finally living up to his potential in an Irish shirt. After almost single-handedly dragging the Republic of Ireland to a win in Georgia, he put on a fine display against Gibraltar, and was unlucky not to feature on the score-sheet.
He is a constant menace, and the maturity he has developed, in giving the right passes when needed, ensures that McGeady is one of the first names on the starting XI.
CM: Glenn Whelan and Darron Gibson.
Whelan may not be the most flamboyant nor popular of midfielders, but is a shoe-in for O’Neill on the basis of tried-and-tested. The Stoke City man did what was expected of him against Georgia, and while not be a crowd favourite, he puts in a hard-working shift which is essential if we are to live with Germany.
Gibson proved his fitness against Gibraltar and rarely conceded possession. While there will be calls to take the more exotic option of Jeff Hendrick, a mix of graft and experience is required.
AM: Wes Hoolahan.
Frequently called for by the football romantics, Hoolahan was awesome against an albeit weak defence in the Aviva Stadium, and was instrumental in all of Keane’s goals. Not much can be read into his goal, as he rounded the defence without real opposition.
Following Saturday’s display, Hoolahan is undroppable. By playing the Norwich man in the midfield, O’Neill is aiming to pack the middle of the park in defence, yet still hold a real threat going forward.
LM: Shane Long.
The Long/Keane decision is the toughest decision of all for O’Neill. This writer would play both, with Long wide on the left in light of McClean’s move back. The Tipperary man has predominantly played on the wing since joining Southampton, and his pace and strength will be key in holding onto possession high up the field.
ST: Robbie Keane.
65 goals and counting. The record speaks for itself. Long, Doyle, and the rest of the chasing pack have never been clinical enough in front of goal. The LA Galaxy star’s finishing is second to none, and Ireland will have to take any opportunities that come their way if they are to leave Gelsenkirchen with a result.
With this in mind, Keane’s selection is a non-decision.
Brian Barry, Pundit Arena.